Whenever I read stories of people volunteering their time to helping others, I’m often reminded of how little I’m involved in my own community. Thankfully, my photography and writing has given me some opportunities to reach out to people. However, it’s very easy for me to lock myself in my office and work until I fall asleep. I’m an introvert. I’m shy, and I suffer from social anxiety. It’s hard to overcome our fears, but I’ve reached a point in my life where my desire to be part of the community is stronger than my anxiety.
A friend of mine told me about a volunteering opportunity where Bethlehem Church shelters and feeds homeless women for the night. It was an incredible experience for me because I had a chance to meet some of these wonderful women who benefit from this volunteer organization. Besides the fact that it felt good to do something for someone else, I felt like I was a part of something bigger than myself. I believe that’s what it means to feel part of a community.
While we have social media platforms that give us virtual space to express our views, there is still a false sense of connectedness. You can’t replace the physical human interaction. When we interact with people face to face we hear tone, voice inflection, body language, and facial expressions. But more importantly, we realize we’re not all that different from each other. Volunteering has helped me understand the importance of community, and I hope to use my photography and writing to record and share my experiences as I explore more of these community based projects that help bring people together.